Not to dwell on the obvious, but the New York Giants need an influx of playmakers. Co-owner John Mara harped on such during the team’s year-end press conference on Wednesday. This notion was quickly echoed by general manager Dave Gettleman shortly after.
The return of a healthy Saquon Barkley should certainly give a boost to the NFL’s 31st-ranked offense. However, if the Giants truly want to see what they have in young signal-caller Daniel Jones, they must supply him with high-end talent in the passing game.
Yes, Sterling Shepard is a nice piece. Yes, Darius Slayton has outplayed his draft position. Yes, Evan Engram is a Pro Bowler (if by title only). However, the former two are No. 2 wide receivers at best on a quality team. The latter was responsible for more negative game-altering plays than positive ones in 2020.
Simply put, the G-Men need a lead-man in the passing game. No Giants wideout has exceeded 751 yards receiving in the past two regular seasons since Odell Beckham Jr.’s departure in March 2019.
New York will undoubtedly be on the prowl for pass-catching talent this offseason, especially with a loaded draft class and free agent pool to choose from. However, could the Giants instead opt to pursue a trade for one of the league’s most lethal talents at the position in recent memory?
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Julio Jones to the Giants?
Giants Wire’s Doug Rush recently floated the idea, one that likely pushed Giants fans into an eager delirium upon hearing it.
With the Atlanta Falcons in the midst of a complete overhaul and search for a new general manager and head coach, owner Arthur Blank has refused to commit to franchise mainstays Matt Ryan and Julio Jones moving forward.
This likely means that at the very least, Atlanta would entertain phone calls for their seven-time Pro Bowl wideout.
Rush brilliantly outlined what a deal to acquire the soon-to-be 32-year-old may look like from the Giants’ perspective, along with the financial impact it could have on the franchise.
Jones has three years and $38 million left on his contract, and given his production since 2014, that would be a good buy right now for the Giants.
Jones, who will turn 32 next month, wouldn’t cost the Giants a first-round pick and maybe not even a second-round pick. But a third-rounder? Maybe even a fourth- or fifth-rounder for Jones? Given the state of Falcons franchise, how could they say no?
The Giants are in a state where they can afford to make a move like that for their offense. Jones needs a top receiver, and the best one in the NFL Draft is Alabama wideout and 2020 Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith, who likely won’t be on the board at No. 11.
Hampered by a lingering hamstring injury, the two-time All-Pro played in just nine games in 2020, racking up 771 yards and three touchdowns on 51 receptions — his lowest totals since suiting up for a career-low five games back in 2013. Without Jones on the field, the struggles of the middling Falcons offense were even more evident.
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Is Julio Jones Worth Pursuing?
You could potentially poke into the theory that Alabama’s DeVonta Smith is the draft’s top receiving prospect in a class that will likely enlist Smith’s speedster teammate Jaylen Waddle and LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, among others.
However, what is foolproof about acquiring Jones, even at the current stage of his career, is that a sub-$40 million contract for a player of his talent level is essentially a bargain. This especially reigns true if he could be had for a mid-round pick.
To put Jones’ remaining three-year, $38 million contract into perspective, two offseasons ago the Giants inked then-31-year-old Golden Tate to a four-year, $37.5 million ($23 million guaranteed).
You could view the Tate signing as a warning not to pursue an aging wideout. With that said, Tate in his prime couldn’t carry current-day Jones’ jockstrap.
That’s no disrespect to Tate, who enjoyed some brilliant seasons during his days in both Seattle and Detroit, instead, it demonstrates the specimen that is Jones. A specimen who Rush believes could push the Giants over the top in the NFC East in 2021 and beyond.
Giants are inching closer to becoming a playoff team. Having a target like Jones for Jones (pun possibly intended) to throw to for the next three years could be enough to tip that needle.
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